Day one. Fast forward forty six hours in transit which included a bus, two planes, two trains, a car trip and a whole heaps of B grade movies, and I arrived in rural France. In the town of Amberac to be more specific. A tiny village in the Poitou Charentes region.
I WAS IN FRANCE! What a sweet reality! I had flown half way around the world away from my Vicklets. I had detached the mother and fled to dwell inside of myself for ten whole days and act as adults often do. Getting on that plane was my biggest hurdle and I had conquered. I was 100% wrapped with myself.
When I arrived, people were asking me how I felt to be in France? Really, I was just thinking about my little escape victory. I had no idea were I was geographically. I had basically only seen airports and train stations but I was pleased and ready for what was ahead.
I arrived at nightfall to my second family, the Georges. We all squealed with delight to be seeing each other.....in France! It did feel a dream. They had cheese, wine and raspberry tart awaiting to celebrate.
In the morning I woke up early (sleep in dream dashed). I had shaken off my transit fog and was ready to see what this rural France business was about. At first light I finally discovered my home for the next four days, Mulberry Cottage. Every bit the rural Frenchy dream with its rustic stone walls, blue window shutters and climbing green vines.
Yes! So, yes! My insides were yelling all kinds of gleeful things. It felt so Frenchy! Because, it was so Frenchy!
Mulberry Cottage was a beauty in a rustic, rural and grand kinda way. Such a mix of old and new. It had a contemporary ruby coffee machine but crumbly stone walls with multitudes of imperfections. And yet, the imperfections told a thousand stories. So many lifetimes spent there, no doubt. We couldn't pin point a lot of it's history but it's believed to be between 300-400 years old. Centuries old! How can it even?
You only have to look at the near metre thick solid stone walls to know why it has endured a few centuries. I mean, the workmanship to build the place back when there was nothing more than bare hands to construct it is astounding. Might I say too there is nothing more effective than metre thick walls of stone to kill off bars of wifi (only slightly rude that they didn't consider that fact when they built it four hundred years ago) but in many ways technology felt out of place there anyway.
My mind just boggled my entire stay with all the what-has-this-house-seen type scenarios (France really tortured me like that). I tried to visualise the endless amount of families that have lived their lives out there. The marriages, the births, the successes and the devastating lows, the tragedies and the changing times that it had withstood. How many secrets have been made and kept there? Did the German Nazis occupy it like so many others homes in the village during their take over in WW2? Have any other run away foreign mothers taken shelter there to recharge?
I looked at these stairs filled with wear and great big cracks and chips moulded over many centuries and again wondered what little feet had ran up and down them? How many times did the servants have to go up and down them each day to attend to their duties? What types of shoes were worn to step down and out the door for the day over the generations? I dwelled in endless daydreams. It wasn't hard to experience the nostalgic character of Mulberry Cottage with the constant reminder of the past right there in it's shell.
Isn't this little window just darling? I thought it was so gorgeously charming but it once had a very practical use and had nothing to do with cosmetic purpose. In the time of a very distinct class system, the kitchen staff would talk to the workers thru the window and scoop their lunch through the tunnel which is the hole under the window (now blocked with stones - a good rural fix it job, no doubt) and the workers would place their bowl underneath and collect their meal.
Times like that are such a parallel existence to what I know. It's hard to really fathom them.
There were so many slots of sweetness dotted about the house, like my window which opened out to overlook the steeple of the 12th century chapel. It totally made me want to peek my head out and break into that song from Beauty and the Beast "Little town, it's a quiet village, every day like the one before...little town, full of little people waking up to say, "Bonjour!"
There was plenty of decor candy to be admired too.
And let's get one thing straight. In France, there is always baguettes. Double full stop.
Following that, on the kitchen table there was always a good supply of cheese and wine at hand for any moment of need. There was naturally a lot of need and so we made a full time job of eating it.
Wondering away from the farmhouse on a very short walk, because everything is a short walk away, you would either run into this kinda of Pride and Prejudice view:
or this mirror river dream boat
I took many walks whilst in Amberac. The countryside was so open with just the crops and the big blue sky. The peace and stillness was so perfectly calming and restorative and there was something incredibly humbling about returning to such a solid dwelling that had stood the test of so much time.
I was so taken by my French farmhouse that on walks I sketched mental intentions to learn the language, pack the whole family up and move to rural France to find our own farmhouse haven. The cost of one is much more appealing than investing in property in Australia. We could have a veggie patch, French chickens and wait at the front gate each morning for the bakery van to deliver our baguettes and raise our children where they catch the bus home from school for a hot lunch. We could pay 2 euros for a slab of cheese daily, and play guitar and sing tunes by the river whilst the kids swam. I couldn't quite complete the picture with an image of what we would actually do to make money, but minor facts shouldn't get in the way of dreams right?
Our French farmhouse will forever be in my heart and remembered fondly as a place where I could release and were contentment dwelled so naturally within me. The difference here was what I fell in love with and yet it was so pleasantly homely and easy to embrace.
Besides, my window posing will forever be at it's strongest in France.